8 Proven Time Management Tips From 12 Top Business Execs
By Georgi Todorov
Time management is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Countless books and gurus are advising you what to do. And there are even apps to push and prod you in the right direction.
But which methods really work? These eight tips are tried and tested by some of the nation’s top business execs.
1. Plan your work the night before
Brian Tracy, Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, is a renowned speaker and best-selling author on self-development, leadership, and time management. One of Tracy’s top tips to having a productive day is to plan your work the night before. “By writing down your goals before you go to sleep, you will think about the things you need to do and mentally prepare yourself to do them before you even wake up the next morning,” he says.
Write down your list of tasks and sort them by priority. This will help you get tasks completed quicker, plus you’ll feel empowered when you’ve completed them.
2. Wake up earlier
According to research, the most productive time of day for most people is often early morning. If you’re a morning person, then consider waking up earlier to start work. This can often be a quiet time of day when you can complete a lot of tasks without interruptions. Jeff Immelt the former CEO of GE, and Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, are known early risers.
Pro tip: Rather than shocking your body into sudden 5 a.m. starts, ease yourself in gently by setting your alarm clock 20 minutes earlier one day at a time.
3. Assign email time
When it comes to managing emails, top executives have found it best to set aside a dedicated time slot to work through their inbox.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has a system he calls, Yesterbox. Rather than dealing with each email as it arrives, he lets them stack up in his inbox. Then the next morning, before handling anything else, he works his way through the previous day’s emails and clears his inbox. This way he doesn’t get interrupted throughout the day.
Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist of Canva, offers a more dramatic method: “Every time a close friend or relative dies, throw away your inbox in their honor and spend time with your family. You’ll be amazed that not answering most email has no negative effect.”
4. Learn to say “no”
Learning to say “No,” in a polite way, of course, can be a huge time-saver. Most of us are naturally inclined to say “yes” to requests, but if you say yes too often, you may find yourself overwhelmed with appointments and meetings that are preventing you from completing more important tasks.
In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr., published In Search of Excellence and suddenly found themselves having to respond to a lot of requests. Peters had to change his mindset so he could survive. He says that today, “I’m damn good at saying no.”
5. Leave work on time
Keeping a healthy work-life balance is important if you want to avoid burnout. Knowing when to call it a day and switch off is something that Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has practiced all through her career. There will always be things to work on, but most of them will still be there in the morning. As Sandberg says: “You can only do so much.”